Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Sure, there are those rare cases where toxic exposure results in suddenly awesome superhuman powers (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and "hero for hire" Luke Cage come to mind), but mostly it’s bad, bad news. That’s why the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is here.

Like a federal smoke detector for toxic materials and deadly diseases, the ATSDR operates in a research and advisory capacity, sniffing out the danger so federal and state agencies, community members, and others can respond accordingly. The ATSDR is also constantly conducting research to determine the risks of potential hazardous material sites in an effort to prevent exposure.

Besides profiling specific substances and assessing the dangers of hazardous waste sites, the ATSDR also managers a number of voluntary exposure registries. These lists help doctors and officials track the long term effects of various toxins, hazardous materials, and diseases (tremolite asbestos, coal ash and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS are just a few examples).

But getting exposed to toxins is not the only way to get on the list. ATSDR also tracks exposure to terrorism. The World Trade Center Health Registry was established in 2002 to record the long-term physical and mental health effects of the September 11th attacks.

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